Energy-efficiency is one of the primary advantages of nettop systems compared with a fully-functional desktop PC. Intel Atom processor developed specifically for these systems is an excellent example of how Intel cares about energy-efficiency. I would like to remind you that maximum calculated power consumption of a single-core Atom 230 is only 4W. That is why we expect nettop chipsets to consume little power, about the same as the CPU.
We checked the power consumption of a complete Nvidia ION platform during most typical tasks and compared the results against similar readings taken off a nettop system based on Intel 945GC. We measured the power consumption of complete systems without the monitor. It is important to keep in mind that since tested platforms used different power supply units with different efficiency factors, a certain measuring error in the results obtained for different platforms may need to be taken into consideration. Hopefully it will not affect our conclusions:
The test results show that the power consumption of nettop platforms from Intel and Nvidia is practically the same. Both systems demonstrated similar results under all types of load. However, I would like to stress that ION platform offers better performance-per-watt when graphics core is on. The performance of the GPU integrated into GeForce 9400 is much higher than that of Intel GMA950 video accelerator. But nevertheless, both platforms boast comparable performance in 3D modes.
Unfortunately, if we talk about netbooks and not nettops, then the parity between Nvidia ION and Intel 945GC should actually be regarded as Nvidia’s defeat. The thing is that Intel 945GSE netbook chipset is very different from 945GC in electrical parameters. While the maximum calculated power consumption for the Intel nettop chipset is 25.5W, Intel 945GSE paired with an ICH7 South Bridge consume only 9.3W. So, if you consider Nvidia ION as a possibility for a mobile platform, it will be totally defeated by an alternative solution on Intel components.
However, as an excuse Nvidia refers to almost identical power consumption between GeForce 9400 and Intel 945GSE in idle mode. As a result, the battery life of the mobile systems based on these two chipsets will be barely different. However, contemporary netbooks can’t boast very impressive battery life anyway, so even its slightest decrease will cause fair frustration.